The Worthless Whisper

It was bright and sunny Sunday morning. The birds were singing, the sun was bright, the kids were excited, and we were running late. The Hubs had to be in Greenville early to assist with preparations for a guest speaker, and we hoped I’d be able to arrive with the kids in order to attend the speaker’s talk before church.

We normally go to church in Washington… so the half hour distance, plus not having HH’s assistance in getting the kids ready, plus needing to go extra early, plus the Belle wanting a wee nap… basically it all combined to mean that I was so far from the possibility of getting there on time. I think I counted that after getting everyone in the car, I went back into the house approximately six times to grab one more thing before the van actually reversed out of the driveway.

I started the trek to Greenville, noisy little people in the back, me flustered at the thought of now being exceptionally late, and I prayed that the Lord would somehow help us make it on time. Yes, friends, I kind of treated God like a magic genie and I hoped that if I rubbed His lamp, a thirty minute journey would become a fifteen minute journey, and then the time-space continuum could get back to normal.

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I intended to do my part by driving as quickly as seemed reasonably possible.

Shortly after that prayer, I heard a reply from the Lord. This was especially significant because I hadn’t been a very good listener lately — if I was asking and He was answering, I probably didn’t hear it. But this was the whisper:

You need to slow down. Let it go. This isn’t a big deal.

It was something like that — you know how you hear something with your heart and it’s not necessarily a message with words, but still something you just understand? I sensed this simple encouragement from the Lord to relax, to trust that this “issue” was very small in the grand scheme of things, that it was all going to be okay.

I agreed. You’re right, Lord, I need to slow down. I purposefully slowed down the bustling mini-van and continued the journey.

I sat not-so-patiently as the next two stop lights I encountered were red and took FOREVAHEVAH. I was anxious to get scooting again, and sped up again — not to the slowed-down pace I’d been directed to by the Lord, but to the previous pace — the as quick as reasonably possible one.

I doubt they’ll be handing out any medals in heaven for half-obedience.

Not long after, flashing blue lights were behind me, and I hadn’t even made it out of Washington yet.

It turns out, the stretch of road I was driving on was a 35 mph zone, but I thought it was a 45. To my credit, there were no speed limits signs posted from the point where I turned onto the road to the point where I was pulled over, and the first sign you see, shortly after the spot where I was pulled over, is a 50. Since I was going as fast as reasonably possible — faster than 45, I was going rightmuchfasterthanreasonableina35milesperhourzone.

Needless to say, I was 1) disappointed to get a speeding ticket and 2) SO disappointed that it could have been avoided if I had just done that one little thing I encourage my kids to do all the time: listen and obey.

OUCH.

When you do something stupid like that, and you realize that you specifically, deliberately (or perhaps absentmindedly) disobeyed the Lord (the way I chose not to relax and slow down) I imagine it is completely natural for you to feel a couple of different things. One is totally frustrated and angry with yourself. Another is really sorry and disappointed at yourself. The third is just totally ashamed of yourself.

The frustration and anger tend to subside. Deep breaths. The sorrow over the mistake will hopefully lead you, like it led me, to ask for forgiveness. But there is this funny thing about shame. Shame is like a stinky wet blanket, laid thick and heavy over your soul.

The person who feels ashamed usually wants to hide. Regret and frustration and sorrow are healthy parts of the process of dealing with something you’ve done. But shame often turns the nail on its head and tries to point instead at the problem being with who you are.

I basically dealt with my own anger and frustration about the situation. I asked the Lord to forgive me for blatantly continuing on my own course of action, instead of truly listening and responding to the gentle whisper He was kind enough to give me.

But then, in relational terms, the situation was a big knock. It hurt my pride. It made me feel foolish. It bummed me out because in the States speeding tickets can negatively affect your car insurance premiums, and with the Hubs being a “legal immigrant alien” (or some similarly strange term) he has no domestic driving record, and we’ve had to be creative to avoid the super-high insurance premiums that we would have to pay to insure him to drive here. (Hence the usefulness of the Hubs driving a motorcycle.)

Godly sorrow leads to repentance and brings with it hope, and a renewed sense of thankfulness for the forgiveness that Jesus paid for. In the end, it reminds us that, while we are fallen and broken, God sees us as worthy — worthy enough that He’d send His Son to take the punishment we deserve.

Worldly sorrow, and the shame that goes with it, whispers a different message. It says: you are a mess and you’re just not really worth it. You think this about yourself but the truth is that.

I walked around for a while with my tail between my legs. Even though I’d asked for forgiveness and was confident I was forgiven, there was still this uncomfortable discontent in my heart.

I’ve recently been working my way through Beth Moore’s book, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. It has been so enlightening, such a great encouragement, and it has given me so much food for thought about my faith I feel like I’m overindulging at an all-you-can-eat-buffet. In one section, she is discussing the fact that our enemy feels no remorse for kicking us when we’re down. She comments:

“Somehow we secretly hope the devil, as low as he is, surely has enough scruples to draw the line where the fight would be totally unfair. Satan has no scruples!”

Beth Moore, “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things

It feels ridiculous to admit that I’d like to assume that there are at least a few things that are too low even for the enemy of our souls. But truly — he is as low as it gets!

So after dealing with just being bummed about my disobedience, my lousy decision-making and the consequences, you’d think that was enough to deal with — but no! Satan has no scruples — and he is sure to try to kick you while you’re down!

These whispers quietly creep in, and you feel as if they’re your own thoughts:

Man. You’ve been complaining about cars speeding through your neighborhood. You should totally be ashamed, hypocrite.

Gosh. You really thought you were a lot further along in your walk with the Lord than to go and do something stupid like this. 

Cue the flustered embarrassment. Cue the I’m-so-disappointed-I-want-to-run-and-hide feelings on the inside. Cue the resulting ‘uneasiness’ that I just couldn’t put my finger on for a while.

Can I tell you the best thing to do in a situation like this? If you don’t already think I’m crazy, you might think so now.

If there’s any truth in the words the enemy is whispering, agree with them.

In Matthew 5, Jesus said “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.” {v. 25}

Here’s what this looks like in practice.

“You’re right devil. It is very hypocritical for me to complain about all the people who have been speeding through my neighborhood, and then to think I’m a special case and I ought to be able to get away with it. But you know what else is true? Every mistake I’ve ever made or ever will make is nailed to the cross. I am sometimes a hypocrite, but I am always forgiven because of JesusThe Bible says ‘Those who look to Him are radiant. Their faces are never covered with shame.’ {Ps. 34:5} so I don’t have to be ashamed of the mistakes I’ve made — when Jesus said ‘It is finished” He meant this, too!!”

And in response to the suggestion that this is an indication that I still belong in Children’s Church:

“You’re right that I did a stupid thing, devil. I should’ve listened when the Lord told me to slow down. But even Paul the Apostle said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” {Phil 3:12} If the Apostle who was responsible for bringing the Gospel to the gentiles and was imprisoned for his faith said he didn’t have it right, there is still plenty of hope for me. I will only attain perfection when Jesus returns and makes all things new — but the Lord has brought me this far, and I most certainly intend to keep on climbing!”

The difficult thing about the whispers of our unscrupulous enemy is that they are often a mix of fiction and non-fiction. They contain just enough truth to disguise the lies that lie underneath: the whispers that question God’s goodness, or question our inheritance in Him.

Friends, are you ever discouraged that you’re just not good enough? Not smart enough? Not perfect enough in one way or another?

We can deeply embrace the truth that we all totally fall short of the incredible, impeccable example of Jesus — and since that’s the gold standard, we should not try to hold ourselves to any other standard. Because this is the life-giving truth: God knew from the beginning we’d never measure up. But He also — in some beautifully marvelous mystery — decided that we were absolutely worth it anyway.

The next time some worthless whisper comes creeping past your ear? Be quick to agree that while you may not measure up, God saw you as worthy enough to send His Son to planet Earth for you. And you really can’t get more valuable that.

 

Day 2: The Strength in Our Frailty (And the Guy at the Bank)

Day 2: The Strength in Our Frailty (And the Guy at the Bank)

Hi there! This post is the second in a 31-Day writing adventure I’m embarking on. I’d love for you to join me and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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If there is one thing I can pinpoint that I find most frustrating about the experience of being human, it’s humanity. Not everybody else’s humanity — it’s my own shortcomings that, metaphorically speaking, keep getting under my skin.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a rather unfortunate experience at the bank, where someone made a pretty bad judgment call about what was happening when I was being helped by the teller. He made a very hurtful comment and followed it up by not being willing to hear what I had to say in defense of the significant amount of time I took with the teller. I cried in my car… cried again when one of the tellers called to apologize while I was in the parking lot at Walmart… it basically just kind of stunk.

I shared the story just after it happened, but I haven’t yet shared the follow-up story, what happened the Monday after that fateful Friday afternoon. By the end of the incident, I knew the name of the gentleman who’d spoken so harshly to me. When I got home from my errands and shared what had happened, the Hubs was… pretty much livid.

He handled it well, but decided he wanted to do something in my defense. So, on Monday afternoon, I was busy in my kitchen when he walked in with the phone in his hand and said “Someone wants to speak with you.”

He’d contacted the guy from the bank, explained that he’d been rude to his wife, and said he owed me an apology. I answered the phone and he apologized in an “if I have offended you…” sort of way. Not really committing — if you get my drift?

I took a moment to explain what was happening at the bank that afternoon when he was waiting in line. That there were 112 checks to process. That those checks were to cover my Dad’s medical bills. That that day was the six month anniversary of his death.

And once he had the whole story? He really apologized. Through a few more tears, I encouraged him to remember that you don’t always know what is going on in other’s people’s lives, so it’s best to be careful with everyone. He agreed that that was good advice and seemed to sincerely take it to heart.

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At the end of the interaction, I was thankful I’d had the opportunity to speak with him, appreciated the apology, and was especially grateful to the amazing husband who stood in the kitchen with me, held me while I cried once more and said “You don’t deserve to be treated like that.” {Hero, more and more all the time…}

Reflecting on this incident, I see myself in the bank story — but I’m not always the protagonist. Sometimes I’m the one misjudging others, the one who doesn’t really want to hear the explanations for what I’ve already made my own judgments about. Sometimes I’m one of the other customers in line who stands there and agrees with the guy who’s getting impatient, stoking the fire instead of suggesting there’s the possibility that something else is going on there.

I say things I later regret. I do things I wish I didn’t do. And this is the frailty that makes the human experience so challenging. Our imperfections and weaknesses are an integral part of the story — we even say it, when we make mistakes:

I’m only human.

And that only human place? That is the place where God steps in with strength for our frailty.

What seems like a liability, God turns into an asset.

Paul explains it this way:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. {2 Cor. 12: 9-10}

Paul’s weakness started out as a source of frustration for him, but in God’s glorious goodness, He saw it fit to redeem those weaknesses — and turn them into a personal advantage. The more weakness we struggle with, the more we can lean on the power of God instead of trying to stand on our own {in}sufficiency.

We will make bad calls. We’ll make mistakes. We’ll make misjudgments. We might sometimes be the one that sends someone else to their minivan in tears, and not even know it.

But there is grace and forgiveness for those poor choices, and by the help of the Holy Spirit, there is the hope that we can walk the line a little better next time, that we can stay in step with the Spirit, that we can follow the example of Jesus.

Will we ever be completely comfortable in our own skin? Probably not. But that God chooses to stand with us, work through us, forgive us and use us anyway? It’s nothing short of glorious.

xCC

 

#31Days, Starting… Now

#31Days, Starting… Now

Hi there! I’m posting the links to each day on this post to make it easy for folks to find them. Please scroll down to read the #31 days series introduction!

Day 1: One Day at a Time

Day 2: The Strength in Our Frailty (And the Guy at the Bank)

Day 3: Blind Faith Sees

Day 4: On Dragons, Angels and Jesus

Day 5: You Got Spirit, Let’s Hear It

Day 6: The Declaration of Un-independence

Day 7: Fight Fear with Good

Day 8: Holy Stooping and Drama Llamas

Day 9: Lost and Found

Day 10: The Gift in Giving

Day 11: Finding Yourself

Day 12: Life’s Beautiful Brevity

Day 13: Blessed Obedience

Day 14: Joy from Ashes

Day 15: A Heads Up at Halfway

Day 16: Work Worth Waiting For

Day 17: When Less is More

Day 18: Beautiful No-Nos

Day 19: The Voice(s)

Day 20: Faith is a Team Sport

Day 21: On Entering Negative Space

Day 22: Using Your Voice

Day 23: Simple Trust

Day 24: Because You Know What They Say

Day 25: For When You Can’t Keep Going, But You Must

Day 26: Unconventional Wisdom

Day 27: Love in the Small Stuff OR Lessons from Baby Clothes

Day 28: Overlooking the Junk for the Love

I guess this story really starts about five years ago, when The Nester wrote about the same topic for 31 days. She has a fantastic blog about, well, nesting naturally, but about 3,700 other great topics fit inside of that realm, too. And five years ago, she wrote, I loved it, and I thought, “Ooh! I want to do that!” The next year, she invited eight friends to join in, and I, from far away in South Africa, read along and thought, “Ooh, I still want to do that!” and the next year, she sort of “opened it to the general public” and 746 people jumped in. I thought, “Ooh, I still want to do that!” but I think I was moving countries and had some small children or something.

Then, last year, 31 Days arrived again and I thought, “Oooooh! I still want to do that!” But I was very pregnant and certain the little one would arrive early and I was unwilling to sacrifice sleep and I had other small children and… wow, here I am making excuses again.

So, this year, I decided to bring this little challenge before the Lord and let Him make the excuses for me, because then I would feel better about having an excuse not to do something that I think would be quite good for me. I was standing in front of the washing machine, which thankfully has a window behind it which allows me to look out toward the river while I ponder how much time I actually spend on laundry each week, and wonder what the bottom of my laundry basket looks like, if it does, in fact, exist.

The conversation went like this:

“Lord, I constantly get the sense that You want me to write more, and I feel like I need to get over some internal hump and just jump brave in, and I think writing for 31 days would be a really good way to actually show myself that these books You have stirring in my heart could actually turn into something on paper if I’d be disciplined enough to do it.”

Okay, do over, I think the conversation went more like this. Although all of the above was in my head and heart at the time, so the Lord ‘got it’ without me ‘splainin.

“Lord, I feel like I should do that 31 Days thing. But I don’t know what to write about. So. If You want me to do it, will You please give me a topic?”

[Complete silence, both external and internal.]

I walk away thinking I might be off the hook.

But then. This weekend, the smalls and I travelled along with HH to a wedding a wee ways west of Winston-Salem… I don’t know if it could be classified as the mountainous section of North Carolina, but it was at least foothilly enough to be inspirational for me.

We needed the Belle to have a little morning nap in the hotel room, so HH took the boys out to play and I was there with a sleeping baby, no laundry to fold, and … silence.

So I started reading, which, for me, kind of naturally turns into writing, and then, plain as day, the Lord simply whispered a little theme to my heart, which I am pretty sure if I looked back would be a recurring theme, a bright pink thread, right straight through, from the early days when this blog still had Smiling, Avocado and Bacon in the title. And if you can remember those days, well then, leave a comment because you’re one of eleven.

To test and see if this was actually a 31-dayable topic, I quickly flipped to a clean page, jotted down the numbers 1 – 31, and promptly came up with 22 post ideas in less than 22 minutes. Perhaps even ten. Minutes that is.

And then, my friends, I was cornered. In His glorious goodness, He kept His end of the bargain… so I have to keep mine.

And for the next 31 days, heaven help me, I’ll be writing about exactly that: His glorious goodness.

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As I proceed toward the end of a year that might, for all intents and purposes seem not good, (considering the unexpected loss of my Dad this March) and as I work through a soul-challenging season where my plate seems uber-full — and not of bacon or avocado or even a slice of home-baked bread — I am somehow confident that putting this new thing on my plate, where I am actively looking in unexpected places to find ways to say He is so good, there is the significant possibility that everything else will suddenly look a heckuvalot better, or perhaps go strangely dim, which will help me to recognize how small it all is in comparison.

Part of the challenge for me will be not simply saying “He’s good because there’s Jesus and forgiveness and stuff” but actually searching for redemption in the hard, the broken, and even in the just plain ordinary. The other part of the challenge will be the discipline of getting up and writing each morning for the next 31 days.

So, quick question for you. Will you join me in a conversation about His Glorious Goodness over the next 31 days? If you are along for the ride, it will make it so much more meaningful for me. I write because when I do, you write back and tell me how much it has meant to you — and I can’t say thank you enough to you amazing people, far and wide, who have taken the time to say Thank you or That meant something to me. 

I’ve had the privilege of hearing many of your stories, and sometimes even meeting some of you, and it has been such a joy, SUCH a gift. You dear readers and social media-sharers and encouraging commenters and (I’m usually blessed and embarrassed at the same time) dear folks who put quote marks around something I’ve said, attach my name to it and pass it on… I write for you, and it is totally His glorious goodness, that He gives good gifts, and then we get to be gifts to each other, because of Him. But maybe that’s a topic for Day 17 or something?

That was a lengthy rabbit trail. Back to the subject, my apologies:

Will you join me on the #31Days adventure? You can follow along by subscribing to my blog or liking With Love, From Here’s page on Facebook or, obviously, just coming right back every day this month.

I hope so. I think it’s for me, but I’m secretly (well I guess it’s not a secret now) pretty sure this is for you, too.

Isn’t that glorious?

xCC

31DaysofHGG100{You can also follow other #31days participants by searching that hashtag at Twitter or visiting the Nester’s Link-Up Page. — I will link to it once it goes live later this evening!}

With Love for the Jerk at the Bank

It’s been a while since I gave any thought to that nice old saying, Every Person Has a Story. But a Friday afternoon incident at the bank brought it home to me again. And I thought it was a lesson worth sharing.

Here’s the backstory.

Today, on the six month anniversary of my Dad’s death, I was busy opening envelopes and recording check amounts and numbers. My Dad was a part of a ministry called Samaritan Ministries International, an alternative to traditional health care. Each month, the members of SMI send their “share” to another member who has a “need”, at the direction of the central office. I’m surprised I haven’t shared with you about this ministry already, we (the Collie family) are also members and had a great experience when the Belle was born — but it’s a topic for another day.

My Dad’s need, namely, his significant hospital bills was published by SMI this month — the significant delay related to the hospital’s delay in sending the big bill and was not the fault of SMI. This means that over the course of September, I’ll be receiving hundreds of checks in the mail, with cards and words of encouragement and prayer, and those checks will cover the hospital bills from my Dad’s final days. {I hope all this makes sense, but feel free to ask questions in the comments if it doesn’t.}

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I had about 110 checks to deposit into the Estate bank account this afternoon, and after spending a good wee while opening those envelopes, recording the details and so on, I was pretty spent, so I went to the bank and hoped it would be okay for me to not fill out a deposit slip listing each individual check.

The bank was short-staffed for a Friday afternoon, but I only waited a moment before my turn in line. I explained the backstory to the 110 checks I needed to deposit and asked if it was okay for me to not singly list out each check on a deposit slip. The teller was very happy to run them through her system for me and I was totally relieved.

At the time, she was the only teller behind the counter; another was in her office with several clients sitting across the desk from her, and the third was manning the drive through window.

I’ve been in the process of settling my Dad’s estate for about six months now. There are a heap of unusual twists and turns and loose ends, which mean I’ve made lots of trips to the bank settling different accounts, and the tellers have been very friendly, and we’ve gotten to know each other a little. While we waited for the checks to go through, she asked how my children were doing. We chatted some more, she continued the process of entering the checks, and I looked back over my checklist, trying to guess what the total was supposed to be, because, really, I hadn’t gone through and made sure everything was clear.

It was the end of a long week, my third week of homeschooling, still unpacking from our move, the anniversary of my Dad’s death… for some reason the thought of the holidays without him had been looming ahead of me all week — I was pretty much just spent.

I overheard one customer waiting in line complaining to another about the wait and specifically using a few words that made me think he might be referring to me taking a long time getting my deposit done. I decided to believe the best about the gentleman and assume he wasn’t actually referring to me.

But, as the transaction came to a close and I gathered my things to leave the desk, he commented, loud enough for the entire bank to hear:

“Are you sure you don’t want to take a little more time and make the rest of us wait a little longer?”

The loud, overbearing tone and rough and disrespectful words felt like an unexpected slap in the face. I spun around on my heels and said, “Would you like to know why that transaction took so long? I am depositing checks to pay my Dad’s hospital bills… he died…”

But before I’d said three words, even louder, even more disrespectfully he chirped “NO NO NO I don’t want to hear it.”

Maybe I spend too much time at home with my Hero Hubs and children, where no one is allowed to speak to anyone in that sort of manner. But the shock of the interaction really stung,  and I walked out muttering my regrets that the world didn’t revolve around him.

I climbed back into my van and erupted into a pile of tears. Today? Really, today?

After a few minutes {okay, maybe several} I’d managed to compose myself and I was ready to run the next errand on the list before heading home.

Deep breaths, tissues. Jesus.

By the time I pulled into a space in the parking lot at Walmart, I was upset all over again thinking about the interaction. I sat in my van for a few minutes looking over my checklist and trying to figure out why the teller said there were 112 checks when I could only count 111. I looked for my phone in my bag to open the calculator and see whether we’d still come to the same total. When I picked it up, it was vibrating.

I answered with a shaky voice, and the teller from the bank was on the other end of the line. She called to apologize for how the other customer had spoken to me.

“He’s a {occupation title removed so as not to incriminate anyone} in town, so I guess that’s just his attitude all the time.”

“It was wrong and completely uncalled for and I’m sorry.”

I was in a puddle again — just totally appreciative that she’d taken the time to call me and apologize for something that wasn’t even her fault. It is funny how having a witness to pain, having someone agree — that happened to you and it wasn’t right – somehow makes walking through something more bearable.

I thanked her for calling more than once, we wished each other a good weekend. A few more deep breaths and tissues and I was ready to let my tear-stained face into Walmart. Although I seriously considering leaving my sunglasses on, the first shopper who looked at me funny forced me to put them on top of my head.

Moments before, in the middle of that brief and heavy-hearted drive from the bank to the Walmart parking lot, I brought this care to the Lord the best way I knew how.

I was reminded of one very important thing: in every situation, Every Person Has a Story. The person who cuts you off in traffic, the Mom who just can’t devote an evening to a PTA meeting, the guy who seems totally disinterested when his kids are screaming on the bus. The girl who might look like she’s just a selfish and careless youngster taking up the teller’s time at the bank with small talk while people are waiting.

And, even the jerk at the bank who has something very unkind to say, after his patience is worn too thin at having to wait a few extra minutes before seeing a teller. Was he abused as a kid? Did he recently lose someone he loved? And perhaps has noone ever encouraged him to consider the possibility that God has a plan for his life that is so much better than being a walking, talking meaniepants?

Every Person Has a Story.

It was a fresh, timely and good reminder for me. As I hunted a space in that parking lot, I waved at the employee who looked down on his luck, standing outside and speaking with a friend. I smiled graciously when the aisles were too full and I had to navigate a sea of fellow shoppers and gently ask if people wouldn’t mind moving their carts for me to get through.

I waved another car that had just left the little Perfect Perks coffee hut in front of me so that she wouldn’t have to wait for all the cars behind me to clear in order to get moving.

I remembered one important thing: I’m not the only one who’s hurting. None of us are alone, facing a sometimes cold, often broken world. And the guy at the bank and I? We might actually have a lot in common. Perhaps we’ve both experienced a significant loss recently. Perhaps we both feel like there are more tasks on the to-do list than we can actually accomplish.

One thing is for sure. Love is the best answer for every broken question. Kindness is the best medicine to give a hurting world.

Every person has a story.

And today, even when it hurts, I’m grateful for the reminder, and I’m grateful this is mine.

xCC

Introducing the Bear’s Kindergarten Teacher

I’ve mentioned before ’round these parts that I think the return to the US has made me a little granola here and there. I transitioned to (always) baking my own bread a couple times a week, cooking about 90% of our meals from scratch, and I even dabble in literally making our granola and laundry detergent when I’ve got the time.

Earlier this year, I felt like I started to up the ante a little more, with some decisions that felt, considering I had three kids four and under around the house, slightly crazy. Among the many, I started cloth diapering (I haven’t told you about that yet, have I?) and simultaneously kicked off infant potty training (pretty sure I haven’t mentioned that yet — cool topic for another day.)

Most of these decisions have family health and environmental concerns at  heart, but there was another on the horizon that felt like a bigger deal, whispering in the back of my mind for two or three years now. I tried to avoid it as best I could, tried to come up with alternative solutions to the I know in my gut this is right for us thing that I just couldn’t shake .

But that wonderful Houndog of Heaven didn’t give up on me. He kept whispering, first one way, then another, until finally, I just couldn’t shake it anymore.

You can be sure of one thing, friends: when the Maker of Heaven and Earth whispers to your heart something He wants you to do, you can count on experiencing blessing and adventure, and often also challenge and adversity, when you choose to obey. But, woe to your soul, if you hear Him whispering and choose another path: you will miss out on the adventure and blessing, but the challenge and adversity still have a way of finding you.

So here it is. Decision made. And I proudly introduce the Bear’s Kindergarten Teacher.

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{She’s the long-haired one in the middle.}

Yes, boys and girls and children of all ages, we are homeschooling.

You saw it coming, maybe? Maybe even before I did?

Well, here’s the moment for us to look at it together.

I’ll take this introductory opportunity to share a few thoughts on this subject, just to make sure the thoughts are shared before I perhaps find myself with too little time to share any thoughts about anything anymore.

Let’s start with the reasons that are NOT reasons we’re homeschooling:

1. We are NOT homeschooling because we think our local public school system is lousy or full of slackers.

I am confident that the Bear would get a very good education in our local public school system. Do I believe there is a possibility he might get a better education at home? Well, yeah, but it’s kind of an unfair fight. I only have to teach one kid (right now), I can work at his pace, choose curriculum that suits his learning style, spend extra time on things he needs extra time on, and enjoy focusing on the subjects that really interest him. I don’t have to deal with government-legislated budget cuts, lack of parental involvement, or a number of other issues that public school teachers face on a regular basis — and they still manage to work their magic.

Basically, I’m taking a risk with the hopes that it’ll pay off.

P.S. My Mom taught in the public school system for thirty years — I have a huge amount of respect for the underpaid, underappreciated, incredibly challenging profession of teaching. Teachers, you are amazing.

2. We are NOT homeschooling because we think the Bear is smarter than everybody else’s kid and needs special attention.

While I do think the Bear is a very clever little chap, I’m not avoiding the public school system because I feel like I need to make sure his astro-physicist-genius-potential is handled with care. I do intend to handle his education with care, and hope that it does foster him reaching his full potential — but not because I think he’s smarter than your kid or your kid or your kid.

3. We are NOT homeschooling because we want to hunker down and live in a bubble until Jesus comes back. 

We will still be involved in the local community. The Tank will start preschool soon. The Bear will hang out with his little pals in children’s church every Sunday, play sports with other kids when we’re ready to kick that off and we’ll be connecting with others in play dates throughout the week. There is a great homeschooling co-op in our area, so we’ll also get to hang with other homeschoolers, take field trips and so on.

Here are a couple of reasons we are choosing to homeschool:

1. As previously mentioned, I have a deep sense of conviction that it’s something I’m being called to do.

Would I rather drop the Bear off at 8 and not have to worry about him again until 3? Sometimes, yeah – I would like to use nap time to write the books that are swirling around in my head, instead of using it as a small-people-free-zone time to accomplish some of my learning goals for the big kid that day. But, the old hymn might’ve said it best: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.”

2. Like my Argentinian PhD advisor once said, “You will never regret to put your family first.”

It sounded really extra beautiful when she said it with her gorgeous accent. And this feels like a family-centered decision. I get to play an (even more) integral part in training my children up in the way they should go. I’d like play an integral part in choosing their curriculum, helping them find the subjects that make them come alive inside, and helping them process a lot of the information that is difficult for small people to take in, about the fallen world we live in, and how we are supposed to keep on living in it.

The more I do my homework, the more I hear the stories about how connected, what a unit families feel like when they choose to homeschool. I’ve witnessed it first hand, and I hope I have the privilege of enjoying it, too.

And sure there are trade-offs. I might have just tossed a whole heap of me-time out the window. I’m already fielding weird questions and sometimes beginning to feel like I should start dressing weird and stop brushing my hair to somehow play the role I feel stereotyped into.

But here’s the thing it keeps coming back to. Yeah, it would be easier to do what mostly everyone else is doing for a million and three reasons, which include convenience and the fact that I don’t like feeling like a weirdo.  But has anything amazing ever happened to anyone who backed down from that thing they sensed in their hearts they needed to do to instead choose to just fall in line with what everyone else was doing?

If Benjamin Franklin hadn’t risked looking looney to chase thunder and lightning on horseback would we have electricity?

If Martin Luther hadn’t written those ninety-five theses would the Protestant Reformation have taken place?

What if Mother Teresa had asked the Lord to call back later when He called her to live among the poor?

None of this is meant to sound like I’m preparing for something absolutely miraculous, but it is to say that what I’ve seen in my heart over the course of wrestling with this decision is a deep desire to kind of look like a reasonable version of normal to a lot of people whose opinions really don’t matter much in light of eternity.

“Will my kid be socialized?” No, I’m currently placing bids on ebay, hoping to purchase some wolves who will raise him for me in the woods near our house.

“Will my kid feel weird?” Maybe, but plenty of public school kids feel weird enough to go off the deep end (in one direction or another) on a regular basis.

“Will this possibly be the hardest thing ever?” I am kind of starting to think so, but it might also be the best.

So here we go. Maybe he’ll call me Mrs. Collie, but I think he’ll probably just call me Mom.

xCC

 

When It’s Time to Bite the Bullet

Four score and about two years ago, give or take, I had a bit of an issue with the Bear’s hair. He was a beautiful goldilocks of a lad, and I just couldn’t bring myself to cut those precious curls. Eventually I had enough strangers ask, “How old is she?” that I finally gave in and did a chop.

It was like this before:

Thoughtful BearAnd like this during the big chop:

The During

And afterwards, he was a grown up little Bear.

Grown UpI didn’t want to cut the Tank’s hair because it felt like a letting go kind of moment… saying goodbye to adorable curls and hello to he’s not a baby anymore.

It was getting bad.

TanksHairCut 006 TanksHairCut 005

But a lovely little curl like this is hard to say goodbye to.

TanksHairCut 004

TanksHairCut 007

What are you looking at?

I’ll be the first to admit I have no idea where the expression “bite the bullet” comes from. Would you like to leave a comment to explain? Who bites bullets?

But finally today, it was warm enough for an outdoor hair cut (less mess) so I bit the bullet, metaphorically speaking, of course, and gave those curls a crop.

The End.

xCC

 

 

Oh! Did you want to see the results?

Well okay.

After I show you how much the Bear looked like his Dad today — I couldn’t believe how much I could see the Hero Hubs when I took this picture while taking those pictures above to document the curls I was waving goodbye to.

TanksHairCut 008It’s a four-year-old version of Hero Hubs — except this one’s brunette!

So, returning to the story, the curls got the chop.

TanksHairCut 002And I’d say the Tank is better for it — who has the nickname ‘Tank’ and curls? Except for maybe a few rugby players, I can’t think of anybody.

Nope, still can’t.

This was when he expressed disappointment that it wasn’t time to go to my Mom’s house.

TanksHairCut 001Obviously not phased by the loss of his curls, whatsoever.

TanksHairCut 003

So we all lived happily ever after.

The End.

For real this time.

xCC